Crunching Numbers

Listen. I know everybody who reads this isn’t all excited about candlemaking. I know this isn’t a candle blog. However: this is where I write everything I’d normally write in a journal — well, almost everything. I do have a private file for potentially embarrassing dreams and rants about people who might read my blog and things like that.

But I digress. My point is that I know you’re not all keen on my candling exploits. So, if you’d care to read my stream-of-consciousness number-crunching, continue reading beyond the cut. If not, simply enjoy a picture of my 3.75oz hexagonal votives:

*looks around*

OK, looks like the squares are gone. Now we can talk.

I think I mentioned earlier that I started a spreadsheet of my candle expenditures vs. my candle income. Before the order I placed today (OMG need more gingerbread!), my tally stood at $31 received and $117 spent. Which, if this were a business instead of a hobby, would be grounds to give it up and take up something a little more lucrative, like… well, I don’t know. Being a narcotics distributor or something.

At any rate, my self-proclaimed marketing manager, James, suggested that I crunch some numbers and figure out a.) how much time and materials goes into each candle, and b.) how much product I could make with the supply I currently have on hand. So, I pulled out my candle supply invoices and my Windows calculator and went to work.

Those hexagonal votives pictured above? They each cost about $1.65 in materials: container, wax, fragrance oil, dye, and wick. However, it takes me 50 minutes to one hour of work — actual work, not including melting time and cool-down time — to make one batch of candles, and my max capacity is currently about 16oz of candley goodness per batch. Assuming I make a full batch of four votives, and declare myself as making $10 an hour (a similar paltry sum as I make at my day job), the labor cost for each candle would be $2.50. That means that if I charge the $4 I’ve been charging for these, I’m just breaking even. Kind of. Which, really, is all I want. If my candle hobby can fund my candle hobby, then I’m golden. It’s kind of like keeping the money you made from selling stuff on eBay in your PayPal account, then buying stuff on eBay with the money sitting in your PayPal account. Come on, you know you’ve done that, too…

I’m thinking about buying some larger hexagonal jars, just because they’re kinda cool, and it’s nice to have a standard container rather than always using thrift store finds. (Not that I’ll stop buying cool containers at Goodwill, mind you.) I just have small hex votives jars and large mason jars, and now I need medium jars.

Anyway, on to the calculations of how much I could make from what I’ve got. I’ve burned through (ha ha, very punny) almost half of a ten-pound bag of wax in the last two months. That leaves me with about five and a half pounds of wax. That would make probably six one-pint mason jar candles (weight measure and fluid measure are a little different, remember), or 25 hex votive jars. However, I only have nine hex votive jars left. So, figure nine hex votives and four mason jar candles. I’m positive I have enough fragrance oil to make that many candles, although I’ll probably have to replenish some of the more popular scents. Anyway, nine hex votives and four mason jar candles will make me, at my current prices, $84. That’s assuming I don’t make any to burn for myself, or to test-burn, and that’s not including my existing cute little inventory of small candles and tealights.

So, what did that tell me? Absolutely nothing. Except that Christmastime might actually bring me some offset revenue for my addictive hobby, so I might actually break even. And that I might have to perfect the art of microwaving soy wax for summertime candlemaking, as the oven makes the house mighty hot in the summer.

In other news? The person who just bought a large cranberry votive from me asked me today if I make “big” candles. Like, three-wick candles. I told her, “not yet.” This is kind of like my impetus for learning to code; give me a task, set me a challenge, and I’ll go figure it out. Absent a goal, I won’t have any reason to go figure shit out.

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